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Bound for South Africa

The Picton Castle has been racing along at an average speed of 6 knots, making great time, ever since we left Reunion a week ago. We all had a fantastic time during our visit, but we are happy to be back at sea. Land tuckers you out. I have been a landlubber my entire life and this has been a recent revelation for me. Everybody is always exhausted for the first few days after a port stop. The deck, usually busy with life during the day, is empty but for the on-watch crew. The living quarters quiet but for the muffled snores and occasional sleepy stirrings. When I first started sailing in the Picton Castle I thought this part of the adjustment back to sea – and it is, in part. It is also because land can be exhausting. There is simply too much to do and see and everyone feels compelled to do and see it all. So, despite the fact that we work everyday on the ship while at sea and we work hard, it still feels like a bit of a break to be back at sea – and we are grateful for it.

Once again Chief Mate Mike divided the crew into new watches. While every watch on the ship is created equal, but there are some major differences between them and it is important for everybody to experience all three. This is just another way the crew begin to see the ship, and the work necessary to keep her running efficiently, in her totality. While every day is different on the ship there are some routines that we abide by daily. The 12-4 watch (under the guidance of third mate -Rebecca Libby) cleans the galley shelves every night and during the day launch themselves into ship’s work. They have started nightly workshops at 2 am, discussions ranging from the basics of the engine room to celestial navigation to sail handling. The 4-8 watch (under the tutelage of second mate Paul Bracken) generally does more sail handling. If you’re a light sleeper you can hear them taking in or setting the jibs in the wee hours of the morning. They also do the daily morning deck wash and wipe down of the ship. At night they clean the galley – washing the floors, scrubbing down the mats and pulling out the containers for a proper wipe down. The 8-12 watch (under the leadership of chief mate Mike Moreland) does the morning domestic cleaning, basic housekeeping. They clean the heads and organize, tidy and wipe down the living quarters before starting in on ships work. At night they clean the scullery and wipe down the walls of the galley.

The mates also switched out some of the daymen. Being a dayman does offer one the chance to delve a little deeper into particular areas of ship’s work and maintenance, although the mate is always quick to point out that you don’t need to be a dayman to gain a skill set. Rebecca Libby became a sailmaker by pitching in during her free time. There is always work for those willing to pick up a palm and a needle or a marlinspike or a hammer.

Sailmakers Joani and Meredith are now patching and seaming with new daymen sailmakers Tiina and Clark. Tiina is already boasting quite a few bandages on her fingers, a sign of dedication and pride. They have been busy seaming up the main topmast staysail. Since it is a storm sail they are making an extra seam on every side of the sail. They have also been patching the topmast stuns’l and making a new hatch cover. This project has actually attracted a lot of would-be sailmakers and Susie, Brad, Shawn, Siri, Astrid and Dan have spent quite a lot of their free time on the quarterdeck working away.

Megan is now a dayman rigger and Logan has spent the last week taking her up in the rigging to learn from his vantage point. As an introduction they have been conducting routine rig checks, seizing sheer poles, sewing in covers for turnbuckles and tarring. She seems to be enjoying the work and is wearing her new streaks of tar – the tell-tale uniform of the rigger – with pride.

Mitch is now in the Engine room with Chris. For the past week Chris has been guiding him through the basics and teaching him how to operate the generator, charge the batteries and make water. Be careful Mitch – Chris will quiz you!

Jan and Tammy remain as daymen carpenters and have spent the week making new baseboards for the interior companionway, sanding and varnishing the helm grates, making brackets and installing new light fixtures with the help of Chris and Paul.

Fred still boasts the title of bosun’s mate and he and WT have put the crew to work on various ship-wide projects including overhauling the trash pump, painting the new ‘sponge hotel’, sanding, penetrolling and stencilling Picton Castle on the longboat oars, wire brushing, corrosealing, priming and painting the bulwarks, sheet cleats, panama chocks and t’gallant rails and stripping, sanding and varnishing the stanchions on the bridge rail.

The Captain held a workshop on serving. He wormed, parcelled and served over an eye splice with a serving board. This process helps to protect, cover and strengthen the splice and is a very important skill to have on a ship rigged like ours. And fun too. Over the next couple of afternoons the crew were divided into smaller groups and under the guidance of the pro crew we all practiced worming, parcelling and serving. It will take a while to thoroughly finesse the art of serving, but everyone is keen to practice.

We are sailing along this evening at 4 knots. The wind has died down a little over the past 12 hours. She was blowing a force 6 last night, forcing us to take in the royals and the mainsail. With a strong following wind, being on helm has felt like wrestling an alligator for the past couple of days. Though we are all boasting new muscles and learned a lesson or two in patience and sheer determination! She was a might easier tonight, much to the relief of the helmsmen. A full moon is out, casting shadow puppets on the sails. Our own personal movie theatre. Tonight’s screening? Bound for South Africa

Logan demonstrating a serving
Mitch practices a serving
Sailmakers and friends
The Captain serves up a workshop

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